But here’s the thing: Sherlock Series 4 purposely took something from every member of the audience. It gave them plot points that didn’t resolve. It baited them into watching the whole mess of a season because the writing implied it was going to make sense in the end. But it didn’t. All people got baited by the narrative. This usually only happens to minority groups. But now everyone can see what it feels like to be strung along and let down. Now non-queer people have a slight taste of what it’s like to be taken advantage of and mislead. This is what happens when queer people watch television, except when the media baits queer people, the effect is detrimental to their sense of self and personhood. You can’t take that from a heterosexual audience. But what you can take from them is their trust, time, and passion.
Did you find yourself asking these questions after “The Final Problem”?
** “What was the note John gave to Sherlock at the end of The Six Thatchers?”
** “How did Sherlock and John survive an explosion that propelled them through a second-story window?”
** “Why did Sherlock leave John to drown in the well?”
** “Where did John’s chains go?”
** “Why didn’t Sherlock notice the glass was missing?”
** “Why was every transition in The Six Thatchers wonky?”
** “Why did they bring up ‘romantic entanglement’ if they weren’t going to address it?”
There are many questions you should have after series 4. But those are questions a mostly heterosexual audience would ask.
These are questions the LGBTQ community is asking right now:
** “Why were Moriarty, Magnussen, Irene, and Eurus all queer and predatory? Why can’t one of the heroes be queer? Why am I always a villain on television?
** "What was the thing Sherlock wanted to tell John before getting on the plane and going to his death?
** "What was the stuff John wanted to tell Sherlock before he died but couldn’t even muster telling his therapist?”
** “Why did Sherlock leave John’s wedding early after blinking back tears?”
** “Why does John dream of Sherlock and keep his bags packed a month after getting married?”
** “Why did John ask Sherlock if he had a boyfriend while out for a candlelit dinner a few hours after meeting him?”
** “Why does John raise his voice at Irene when he finds out she’s still alive and texting Sherlock?”
** “Why does John, who’s so afraid of being mistaken for gay, never admit that he’s straight? Why is he always defensive instead of honest?”
** “Why does John continue to ask about Sherlock’s sexual relationships for over five years?”
These are questions straight people might not even think to ask. Many probably didn’t even notice these things. But queer people notice them. You bet they do. Because they see themselves on screen and wait eagerly for resolution that never comes. That’s queerbaiting. Being strung along, assuming your questions will one day be answered.
Nobody got their answers in series 4.
And look at the ratings.
They’re at an all-time low.
If all writers treated every audience member the way writers treat queer people on a daily basis, look at what would happen. People would hate it. Of course they would. It would be a waste of your time and energy. Now imagine if your sense of self was also at risk. What if you had more to lose than a couple of hours on a Sunday night?
“The Final Problem” is about burning the heart out of Sherlock. Moriarty told us this years ago. But do you see how they did it?
They took the heart out of their own show.
They took the love story from us.
They took the crime, the cases, the deductions, and the logic from everyone else.
THAT is The Final Problem.
What makes Sherlock “Sherlock” are all of those things we’ve come to know and love.
This is how I know we’re getting another episode this month. They left both audiences to dangle. They pulled a Reichenbach. Just like The Final Problem back in 1893.
As Mark Gatiss himself said: “I don’t like loose threads. Not on my watch.”